Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # O_2007-02

Common name:

Western Kingbird

Scientific name: Tyrannus verticalis
Date: January 31, 2007
Time: 1:30 pm
Length of time observed: 10 sec
Number: 1
Age: AHY
Sex: n/a
Location: Off SR-9 between Rockville and Virgin just west of Zion NP (north side of road).
County: Washington
Latilong: ~ 37 N, 113 W
Elevation: n/a
Distance to bird: 25-30 feet
Optical equipment: none, naked eye
Weather: Partly cloudy
Light Conditions: Excellent
Description:        Size of bird: Small robin
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Slender, long wings
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Mix of grey(gray), white and black with yellow belly
(Description:)            Bill Type: Flycatcher/kingbird
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Grey crown and head with dark line through eye, mantle similarly grey contrasting with dark wings and tail. Pale white-greyish throat and upper breast with a lemon yellow belly. Dark bill
slender. Underwing and leg colour and were not observed. In flight, this bird definitely showed a rounded tail that was quite black/dark, and as it banked trying to catch some sort of prey, I saw a hint of pale white along outer edges of tail. I must admit that at first the bird's face appeared quite dark suggesting Cassin's, but its pale throat and tail pattern rules out that species. Overall jizz immediately suggested a kingbird to me as it sat perched and then it briefly hawked for some sort of insect/prey in the sage/chaparral beside the road. Outside temp was about 43F so I was quite surprised to see this species in winter at this location. I was unclear of its significance by date until I consulted a state checklist later that day (note I was not on a birding trip, but on a business road trip traveling with my sales manager -- otherwise, I would have likely pulled over and photographed the bird, something I now very much regret in hindsight!).
Song or call & method of delivery: n/a
Behavior: Perched and then seen hawking for insect/prey in short flight.
Habitat: Open country/chaparral with no trees nearby and just bare low hills.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Species_Elimination: Cassin's Kingbird is a much darker bird with a pale tipped tail and slightly heavier look overall; Tropical has a much heavier/longer bill with a notched, not rounded tail; Couch's is similarly much heavier overall with a different bill. Eastern is essentially a black-and-white kingbird without a yellow belly.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have seen all of North America's 'Tyrannus' except for Fork-tailed either in Canada, and/or on travels in western, southwestern, and southern US. Note that I am quite familiar with Tropicals as while rare, they do in fact show up with some regularity on Vancouver Island most years in late fall; Westerns are an uncommon but regular visitor/transient here in spring and summer. [If it helps: note as well that I have a banding master permit and have been birding for about 17 years. I am also chair of the Victoria Bird Records Committee].
References consulted: National Geogrphic and then Sibley on return home later in week.
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: David Allinson
Observer's address: 572 Atkins Ave. Victoria, BC V9B 3A3 Canada
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: n/a
Date prepared: February 4, 2007
Additional material:  
Additional comments: